Cooking in the Dark

Vaccine Access for the Visually Impaired
July 30, 2021

Cooking in the Dark

By Mike Moore

For most of my life, at least as far back as I can remember, I loved to cook. I would hang out in the kitchen with my mom, and even though I was just a little kid, thanks to her I learned how to cook.  I made everything from oatmeal to hot dogs to scrambled eggs. As an adult, I loved cooking for my kids, and they were easily amazed by my cooking skills!

After I lost my sight several years ago, one of the many things I pondered was how would I get around the kitchen?  How would I prepare my meals? As I started exploring options, it was recommended that I take daily living skills training at the local Regional Center. This training proved very helpful in my quest for independence in the kitchen, but there were many times where I needed help or supervision using the burners on the stove top. I was still able to cook some meals, but quite a few of them consisted of pre-packaged items, and things that could be prepared in the microwave. This way of cooking did not sit well with me.  I wanted more.  I wanted total independence in the kitchen. I wanted to cook most, if not all, of the things that I did prior to losing my sight. I started doing some research to see what appliances were available that could assist me to get back to cooking the way I used to do.

After scouring the Internet and beyond, I was overwhelmingly excited to discover that there were a myriad of kitchen tools and appliances to help me, and other blind and visually impaired people.

I know that a major concern with blind and visually impaired people in the kitchen is safety, because using a gas stovetop and oven can be challenging. But here is the good news, you can absolutely get around in the kitchen without turning on any fire! How is this possible? Electric appliances! These kitchen gems have given me the ability to cook all of the things that I love to eat!  Also, most of the appliances have knobs, dials and or buttons, which makes it easier for me to access. My kitchen is now outfitted with an electric pressure cooker, electric air fryer, electric wok, electric burner (mimics a stove top burner), electric Pan, electric Griddle, and electric Grill.

Although I use some more than others, they all get utilized depending on what I am cooking. The ones I use the most are the electric pressure cooker, air fryer, and the George Foreman grill. I use the pressure cooker to make spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, chili, beans, soups – vegetable is my favorite –  boiled eggs, and chicken. One of the cool features of the pressure cooker is that you do not have to thaw the meat before cooking! I use the air fryer to steam veggies, fry chicken, with or without flour coating, make french fries, and cornbread to name just some of my favorites. I also cook chicken on the George Foreman grill, along with burgers, fish, shrimp, veggies, and sausages.

I could not have been more happy when I found out about these appliances, because they can be a tremendous help to any blind or visually impaired person who would like to start, to have, or re-establish independence in the kitchen. The prices of these appliances have come way down in the last couple of years, so they are quite affordable, and far less challenging than cooking over an open stove top flame. So, if you were thinking that the kitchen was off limits to you, it is not!   Even if you need a bit of support at first, keep on cooking, and before you know it, you will be making fabulous meals for your friends and family, and loving every bit of it!